I first met Pol Robinson at a conference in Orlando. It was a brief, fleeting moment as she was frantically moving through a large group of women who were gathered for Elaine Mulligan’s surprise birthday party. Pol tapped me – and my mother, if needed – to offer a toast to Lainie. But it was via Facebook that Pol and I got to know each other. Perhaps a little too well – it seems that we’ve lived pretty parallel lives. (If it weren’t for our height difference, we could have been separated at birth. 🙂 )
I really got to know Pol during the Minneapolis conference…it was then that her true nature really came through. She has such a caring soul. Knowing that I was alone at that conference because my mother was sick and unable to attend, Pol was always there to make sure that I was included and involved. I was sitting next to her when her name was called as a winner in the Debut Author category for Open Water. Her reaction was simply awesome. When she returned to the table, she was just shaking with excitement! I said to her, “Well, I guess now I have to read it, huh?” Read it I did. I even reviewed it. (You can read my review here.)
Read below about some of Pol’s favorite conference experiences.
This year is the 9th annual Conference and I believe I’ve been to eight of them. I missed the first Atlanta Con because we took a family trip to Ireland, which was a different kind of fun. Looking back (with the help of iPhoto), I cannot think of a “best” Con over the years, they all have their moments. Certainly the first was amazing because it was the first. Then again, last year was pretty amazing, since it was then that I won a Goldie.
Before GCLS came into being, I had attended several “BardCons” in Orlando where I met many a then-legendary Xena writer—both fanfic and professional, or both—and made some lifelong friends. Those events helped introduce me to the wider world of lesbian fiction and the great energy that can come from a community of women. As those events slowly faded, Golden Crown came into being, and what a welcome birth it was!
Some random memories . . . that very first Con in New Orleans and “breaking” into (i.e., simply unlocking) the rooftop pool after hours with a bunch of other women and floating under the stars in the still-stifling heat. That’s where I first met and talked to Linda Hill and Georgia Beers. In fact, I remember approaching Georgia and saying, in my oh-so-very-uncool way, “I’ve never read your books, but it’s nice to meet you.”
What. A. Dork.
Georgia, of course, was gracious, as always.
Other memories: Touring New Orleans for the very first time in my life just six weeks before Katrina and Rita; enjoying some amazing keynote addresses over the years, as well as speakers and presentations. Convincing the hotel staff that shutting down the water slide at 5pm and denying 20 or so 40-something women who’d been locked in conference rooms all day access was a bad idea. Using my room’s curtains to impersonate the Pope from my balcony overlooking the tables of authors and readers milling about; ice cream socials; bad puns and good food; good puns and bad food.
One of the best opportunities that has come of my affiliation with this great organization was the “pitch session” offered to attendees at the 2007 conference in Atlanta. All of the major publishers of lesfic at the time were offering a rare opportunity; pitch your novel to a publisher. What an amazing and unprecedented opportunity! My longtime Con-roomie (and shared birthday pal) Dillon Watson and I were determined to put our best efforts forward. We stayed up most of the night in the bar (where the Wi-Fi was free) with our laptops and notepads, accosting any writer (including newly “crowned” Goldie winners) who passed and asking them to read our pitches and our writing samples.
Then we spent the remainder of the night in our room muttering to ourselves and practicing our pitches. I absolutely love that we’re both with Bella Books and that we’re back-to-back Debut Goldie winners (Dillon in ‘11, me in ‘12). That all-nighter was absolutely worth it.
I could certainly go on and on with bits and pieces of memories, but really, what stands out for me is laughter and empowerment. Endless laughter and an untapped well of power. Making new friends, sharing new stories, the retelling (and embellishing) of old stories, that is what fuels the laughter. What gives me the energy to last the year is the power of all of us together. Three or four days when we can relax and just . . . be who we are. Tank tops or polo’s, cargo shorts or skorts, Tevas or sneakers during the day. For the ‘big do,’ it can be tuxedos or heels—or both! Or even silk jammies.
It. Doesn’t. Matter.
What matters is that we are there. We are there for ourselves or we are there for each other. Whatever the reason, it comes down to this: We are there.
Why aren’t you?
Pol lives, professes, camps, writes, and plays music in Southern California with her partner of 14 years, Sheryl. They share the house (and camper) with Charlie (the best beastie, ever) and their new baby, Hopper, a Beagle/Jack Russell/muttly blue-eyed mini beastie. As often as possible she and the family escape the heat of SoCal for the beauty and wonder of Vancouver Island, BC, where they have family. Pol’s debut novel, Open Water, won both an Alice B. Reader Reader’s Choice Award and the Golden Crown Debut Author award last year. Her short story, “Stretching My Wings,” placed fourth overall in the Kissed by Venus and Venus Magazine’s very first short story competition. Pol is published by Bella Books, and her second book, Celtic Tide, is due out at the end of 2013.
A longtime supporter of GCLS, Pol believes in the good that can come of gathering so many women with a shared love of books and reading.